The Student
Opinion
The hypocrisy and broken morals of porn consumers
by Jennifer Dean, 29/06/20

Mia Khalifa, one of the world’s most famous porn actors, stated in a recent TV appearance “I was banned from the Middle East […] statistically, Muslim countries consume more porn than anyone else. The men who are yelling at me are the same men who are clicking on me.” In an Islamic country, with traditional views on female sexuality, this does not come as a surprise at all. What may prove surprising is that this very same notion is reflected here in the UK. Our young men can justify having a vocal moral objection to sex work, yet still be avid consumers of porn. They can view porn actors as second-class citizens who shouldn’t be making legitimate money, yet directly contribute to their wage.

In Scotland in 2020, I scroll through Twitter. A boy from my school tweets, “Girls with OnlyFans are dirty, just not right.” More than thirty boys engage with this tweet in agreement. These same boys later celebrated the OnlyFans leak, admitting to saving the content now that it had been illegally distributed and the creators were no longer receiving payment for it. Content that was once deemed repulsive is now satisfactory for their own sexual gratification. 

The same day, a young woman bravely shares her experience with PornHub, where multiple videos of her sexual assault as a minor were uploaded and monetised. She details some of the ways in which this relentless re-victimisation has hindered her healing process from the trauma of being a rape victim. She also reveals experiencing extreme bullying from her classmates after they had found the videos. What was especially concerning, however, was the reluctance of PornHub to remedy this by taking the videos down or sanctioning the uploader. It wouldn’t be a stretch of the imagination to assume this was to do with the fact they were still actively profiting from the videos. The boys who just hours earlier were so forthcoming with their opinions on sex work, were suddenly radio silent. Her name was the top search on PornHub that day. 

As more and more victims came forward, the more obvious this silence became. The discourse on the morality of sex work continued, but not the morality of huge porn companies profiting from revenge porn and rape videos. How can people be champions against consensual porn but have no moral objection to non-consensual rape videos? This speaks of a wider and deeply ingrained issue in our society. The paradox of (mostly) men remaining complacent and silent with regards to the over-sexualisation of girls from the moment they hit puberty, and only choosing to speak against  sexualisation when women themselves are in control and consenting to it is very telling of the way we value women. It must change.

I am not very hopeful that it will change any time soon. It is not an issue that men seem to grow out of; older generations are often the most opinionated on sex work. It also doesn’t seem to be an attitude that will gradually start to disappear as society becomes more liberal, as is the case for more tangible and overt issues of discrimination. This is an issue that has, can, and will be ignored; there are many powerful LGBT, women, and people of colour but there are few powerful sex-workers with legitimate means to fight their corner.

So, what can be done about it? How can we change the way in which our young men perceive sex-workers?

Image: Marco Verch via Flickr